With the NFL offseason now officially underway, it's never too early to start focusing on the next order of business, which is free agency. The Cowboys have 20 unrestricted free agents who can sign with other teams starting on March 9, unless they strike a new deal with the Cowboys before then.
Over the next two weeks, DallasCowboys.com staff writers will break down each free agent, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses and the possibilities of a return in 2017.
Today, we'll continue the series with defensive lineman Ryan Davis.
What's The Deal: Davis was an undrafted discovery by the Jacksonville Jaguars, who found him out of Bethune-Cookman back in 2012. He rose from an unknown commodity to a decent rotational player, as he appeared in all 16 games and registered a solid 6.5 sacks back in 2014. He never quite developed a more meaningful role, though, and the Jaguars cut him after training camp this year. The Cowboys signed him immediately after Week 1, and he fought for a spot on the game day roster. All told, he was never able to make much of an impact. He was ruled a healthy scratch on three occasions, and a hamstring injury held him out of two other games. His season came to an inglorious end on Dec. 26, when he hurt his knee against Detroit and was placed on injured reserve.
His Best Moment: There's not a lot to choose from for a guy who was never really able to establish himself. Davis finished the season with three tackles, one tackle for loss and six quarterback pressures. If you had to choose his best performance, it would probably be the Thanksgiving game against Washington, when he had a tackle and pressured Kirk Cousins twice.
Argument to Keep: The Cowboys aren't expected to be big spenders in free agency, and Davis certainly would be cheap to hold on to. With zero career starts and 11 total sacks, his price tag would hardly be hefty. He's also just 27 years old and has five years of NFL experience to draw from. The Cowboys probably don't want him starting, but he could help them fill out their rotation at an affordable price.
Argument to Let Go: It's not like the guy made much of an impression in his first year here. The blunt truth is that Cowboys coaches and beat writers are some of the only people who even realize he was on the team. There was a brief period where it looked like he might push for Benson Mayowa's playing time, but Mayowa quickly rectified that and buried him back on the depth chart. It's possible the Cowboys could bring him back on a cheap deal. But given this team's struggles to rush the passer, it seems like they'd be better off just upgrading the talent at the position.
Bryan Broaddus' Scout's Take:Davis' film in his previous stop in Jacksonville was better than what he showed this season with the Cowboys. He showed flashes of a burst, lateral quickness and pursuit speed – but he could never really get anything going where the coaches could make him a part of the regular rotation. I was always waiting for that player to show up on tape, but it never happened. His motor and effort were good -- but that was really it. He had trouble defeating blockers one-on-one. When he didn't win off the edge, he was dead in the water. Worked hard to get off and attack the blocker, but he just didn't have the skill to consistently finish the job. I was expecting more bend around the corner, but he was just hit and miss. Never put himself in a position where you could count on him down after down and call him a priority to bring back for the next season. The Cowboys need to upgrade as a rotational player and this current draft will allow that.